The Ireland Women secured their second win of the weekend over Japan to finish 11th overall at the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series tournament in Langford, Canada.
Sunday started on a disappointing note for Ireland as they went down to a last-minute try during their Bowl semi-final against Olympic hosts Brazil.
Julia Sarda made it over in the left corner to give the Brazilians a dramatic 10-5 victory and send the girls in green into an 11th-12th place play-off against familiar rivals Japan.
Having already beaten the Japanese 21-14 in Saturday’s pool stages, tries from Claire Keohane and Amee-Leigh Crowe saw Ireland sign off at the Canada 7s with a 12-5 play-off success, earning them two World Series points.
With eight points overall, Anthony Eddy’s charges are 12th in the current World Series standings ahead of the final leg in Clermont-Ferrand, France on May 28-29.
Following the completion of the World Series next month, Ireland will move on to the all-important Women’s Sevens Olympic Repechage in UCD on June 24 and 25, tickets for which can be purchased here: http://www.ticketmaster.ie/sevens.
HSBC WORLD RUGBY WOMEN’S SEVENS SERIES – BOWL SEMI-FINAL: Sunday, April 17
IRELAND 5 BRAZIL 10, Westhills Stadium, Langford
Scorers: Ireland: Try: Audrey O’Flynn
Brazil: Tries: Enda Santini, Julia Sarda
Ireland’s early attempts to find holes in the Brazilian defence were rejected, with Alison Miller – making her first start of the tournament – being hauled down past halfway by a well-timed tackle from Haline Scratut.
But the breakthrough came in the third minute when Audrey O’Flynn took a great line off a Sene Naoupu pass to slice through midfield and score close to the posts. Captain Lucy Mulhall sent the conversion away to the left.
This was a scrappy encounter, though, and Ireland made a series of individual errors with loose passing coughing up hard-earned territory. It took an excellent steal on the deck by Crowe to break up Brazil’s momentum.
However, the South Americans made it 5-all after nippy play-maker Edna Santini broke off the back of a scrum to leave the Irish cover for dead and score wide on the right.
It could have been worse for Ireland just before half-time but Kim Flood showed great commitment to put her body on the line and prevent a certain try for Mariana Ramalho.
Ireland also missed a couple of gilt-edged try-scoring opportunities on the resumption. Miller was hauled down short after Naoupu’s quick pass from a turnover, while handling errors from Stacey Flood and O’Flynn also let the Brazilians off the hook.
Referee James Bolabiu’s harsh decision to sin bin Naoupu for a high tackle on the diminutive Santini saw Brazil suddenly flood forward, with Crowe having to react sharply to deal with a kick into the Irish 22.
It was all hands to the pump as Brazil pressed for a match-winning score and although Mulhall did brilliantly to hold up Amanda Araujo past the try-line, a neat spell of passing then released Sarda for the clinching score in the left corner.
IRELAND: Audrey O’Flynn, Sene Naoupu, Stacey Flood, Megan Williams, Lucy Mulhall (capt), Kim Flood, Alison Miller.
Subs: Amee-Leigh Crowe, Shannon Houston, Katie Fitzhenry, Claire Keohane, Hannah Tyrrell.
HSBC WORLD RUGBY WOMEN’S SEVENS SERIES – 11TH-12TH PLACE PLAY-OFF:
IRELAND 12 JAPAN 5, Westhills Stadium, Langford
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Claire Keohane, Amee-Leigh Crowe; Con: Lucy Mulhall
Japan: Try: Noriko Taniguchi
Japan are known for their strong starts and they duly took the lead in this battle to avoid bottom spot. The Irish defence was stretched early on and three minutes in, accurate passing out to the right released Noriko Taniguchi to go over past the covering Crowe.
But Ireland were back level (5-5) straight from the restart, Keohane bursting through from her own half for an outstanding individual try. O’Flynn tapped back the restart and Shannon Houston fed the UL Bohemians club woman who darted through a gap over the 10-metre line and showed great pace to make it over in the right corner.
With Mulhall typifying the high work-rate in defence and attack, Ireland controlled most of the possession either side of half-time. Barely 30 seconds into the second period, a Keohane turnover saw Mulhall feed Crowe and she stepped inside an isolated Japanese defender for the decisive second try. The skipper’s superbly-struck conversion from the right gave her team a 12-5 lead.
Japan were pinned back in their own half until a furious late assault on the Irish try-line. Indeed, Eddy’s side breathed a collective sigh of relief after Makiko Tomita – under pressure from the tigerish Keohane – lost control of the ball as she crossed the whitewash.
IRELAND: Audrey O’Flynn, Sene Naoupu, Megan Williams, Amee-Leigh Crowe, Shannon Houston, Claire Keohane, Lucy Mulhall (capt).
Subs: Stacey Flood, Katie Fitzhenry, Kim Flood, Hannah Tyrrell, Alison Miller.
IRELAND WOMEN’S SEVENS Squad (HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, Langford, Canada):
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster)
Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
Shannon Houston (Blackrock/Leinster)
Claire Keohane (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht)
Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum/Leinster) (capt)
Amee-Leigh Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)
Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht)
Audrey O’Flynn (Talent ID Programme)
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Megan Williams (St. Mary’s)